Securing Your Home

By Yvette Yatras

When thinking about how you can make your home safer, you should ask yourself a couple of questions.

• Do the locks on doors and windows operate correctly?
• Do I have timers for lights, TV and the radio?
• Do my alarm and locks meet Australian standards?

• There is no point having the latest protection if it is not used for the purpose it was designed.
Here are some tips for the everyday care of your home:
Leave a key with a trusted friend or neighbour instead of hiding a spare key that could be found.
• Do not leave spare keys or car keys readily available inside the house.
• Consider installing motion-activated lighting in your yard.
• It is best to lock up any tools in a shed.
• If you like pets, then dogs can be your best burglar alarm. If not, a ‘beware of the dog’ sign may still deter a burglar.
• If you have unique items of jewellery and other collectables, consider a portable and concealable hide-away safe, available in a variety of sizes.
• If you purchase expensive electrical appliances, cut the boxes into pieces before recycling because boxes left on the nature strip can let burglars know what is new in your house.
• Back-up computer hard drives and keep these copies in a different location to prevent the loss of information on your computer.
• Mark your property using an engraver or ultra-violet markers, with a ‘NSW’ (for New South Wales) followed by your licence number. These markers are now available to buy from various electrical stores in NSW. Marked property is much harder for burglars to resell.

Here are some tips to help you be prepared in case you need to file an insurance claim:
• Make a list of your property for insurance purposes
• It is a good idea to take photos of expensive items, such as jewellery
• Ensure you have current and adequate insurance cover.

Safe behaviour in your home
Whether you are at home or not, there are things you can do to help make your home, and you, safer.
• Know your neighbours – get to know who is supposed to live there and look after each other. They will be more inclined to look after your place if you know them.
• Create an invisible housemate – Women living alone may choose to have a male relative or friend speak on their answering machine, such as “We’re unable to take your call, please leave a message.”
• Ask before opening the door – if it is a stranger at the door, talk to them through a locked screen door.
• Do not let strangers in – if someone asks to use your phone you should direct them to the nearest phone box, or make the call for them.
• Do not give personal details – avoid telling people on the phone or at the door personal information such as marital status, working hours, employment and the number of people living at the house.
• Check credentials of tradespeople – if in doubt, do not let them in. Ask for formal identification and ring their company to check.
• Do not let children answer the phone – if your children are at home unsupervised, let the answering machine or message bank take the call as people can glean information about your whereabouts.
• Trust your instinct – if you feel unsafe or if you think someone is inside, do not enter the house. Use your mobile phone or go to a neighbour and call police on 000.
• Keep out of sight and a safe distance from the house and, if you see them leave, take note of their personal description and car registration, make and colour.

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